Archos Gmini 220
Archos's black, 20GB Gmini 220 does everything a typical hard-drive audio player can do and more. It's one of the few models we've seen to date that has a slot for Type I and Type II CompactFlash cards, plus a 2.5-inch, blue-backlit, gray-scale screen that lets you view JPEG images. Though the screen makes music titles easy to read, it isn't the best canvas on which to view photos; still, it's good enough if you want to take a quick look at what's on your flash card. It's easy to save images onto the player from a CompactFlash card, so if your digital camera supports CompactFlash media, this might be a handy way to store images.
To transfer tunes to the Gmini, simply connect the cable from the unit's USB 2.0 port to your PC, and Windows 2000 or XP will immediately recognize it as a USB mass storage device and assign it a drive letter. From there, drag and drop tracks to the player. In our tests, the player transferred files quickly--92.9MB worth of tunes from the local hard drive to the player in a mere 10 seconds. Though you don't need software to transfer music, the player comes with MusicMatch Plus software for cataloging your music. The player's interface lets you perform such operations as creating and saving playlists, editing tracks, deleting or renaming tracks on the player, and creating folders.
One gripe we have with the Gmini is its power button: To get it to respond, we had to dig into it with a fingernail. In addition, some of the setup options are unintuitive. For instance, to get to the contrast settings, you need to drill down into the Power menu. It would have made more sense to include those settings on the System menu. Initially, we had to consult Archos's documentation to figure out the player's controls; but once past the initial hurdle, we found them relatively easy to navigate. Some of the buttons are rather small, which made simultaneously walking and adjusting the controls more of a challenge than we'd have liked.
The included Sennheiser earbuds were acceptable, but left us craving the clarity of a more expensive set of headphones. The player's volume goes loud but not stun-a-teenager loud.
Using the device's stereo analog line-in and line-out jacks, you can connect the Gmini directly to your stereo system and encode CDs from it. An optional FM remote control lets you listen to FM stereo and record FM broadcasts straight to MP3 format. The Gmini has a built-in microphone for voice recording, and Archos offers an optional external microphone for better sound. The unit's internal microphone sounded clear in our tests.
This small player provides handy image viewing and decent sound, but it could use better controls.
This story, "Archos Gmini 220" was originally published by PCWorld.
Archos Gmini 220